Liechtenstein Joins Schengen Area

By Editorial 16 December, 2011

During a recent meeting of European Council interior ministers in Brussels, the green light was given for Liechtenstein’s full accession to the Schengen area.

Following entry into force in Liechtenstein in April of this year of the Schengen association protocol, a total of three assessment visits to Liechtenstein were carried out by experts from a number of European Union (EU) member states, to ensure that the Principality fulfils all the necessary technical conditions for practical application of the common set of rules of the Schengen acquis.

It explains that the evaluation process was successfully concluded in the autumn, and served as the basis for the EU Council’s decision on granting full accession.

The government points out that as a result of the latest decision, Liechtenstein will become on December 19 the 26th country to join the Schengen area, which will lead to the abolition of personal controls at the Liechtenstein border as well as to increased cooperation between Liechtenstein and the other members of the Schengen area as regards migration and asylum.

Commenting on the outcome, Liechtenstein councillor Hugo Quaderer welcomed the decision and underlined that there was finally a successful conclusion to the long process. Quaderer stressed that Liechtenstein’s accession to Schengen is very significant in terms of both domestic and foreign policy.

The Schengen area was created to facilitate the free movement of persons within the European Union. Initially, it included France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands but now encompasses most of the 27 EU member states, with the exception of the United Kingdom, Ireland and Cyprus, which have chosen to remain outside of the borderless zone, and Romania and Bulgaria, which have not yet met the criteria to join the Schengen area. It also includes non-EU countries Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and now Liechtenstein.

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